Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
November 5, 1999

Espinoza: Salaries based on merit, not longevity

by Anne Krapfl

The salary pay matrix for Professional and Scientific employees is not the same thing as the step system in place for Merit employees, Carla Espinoza told a crowd of 50 at the second P&S education forum Oct. 25. Espinoza, assistant vice president for human resource services (HRS), said the pay matrix "is not about marking time."

"It's about marking performance, relative to what's available in the budget," she said.

"The push has been to keep the Merit system separate from the P&S system. We can't try to equalize things between two systems," she added. "If we all want to be compensated year by year, we have to agree to go to a state system under the Iowa Department of Personnel."

Espinoza's comments came in response to employees who have expressed frustration at not moving through their pay grades. After 10 years, many have not reached the salary midpoint for their P levels, and expect that they should have.

Espinoza noted that the pay matrix also moves up, so even if a salary increases, penetration into a pay range may be slight.

Pay matrix

Espinoza said the guide points in the P&S pay matrix (grade minimum and maximum, first third and midpoint) are guides for managers to use. Salary increases are based on performance evaluations, not years on the job, and there are no rules about how quickly employees ought to advance through a P level, she said. New employees may be hired at salaries between the minimum and first third for a position's P level. Starting salaries above the first third require special permission from the provost or vice president of that area.

And high salaries for new employees may create questions of inequity among the employees already in that unit, Espinoza said. Just once at Iowa State -- when the unit documented that other workers' salaries were below market -- were those employee salaries boosted to closer match a new employee's salary.


In the forum on the P&S classification system (Oct. 11), Espinoza said that reclassification is not a means for promotion; rather it reflects task and responsibility changes in a position. True promotion, she said -- a new job in a higher P level with a higher salary -- happens in Iowa State's open recruitment process, she said. Iowa State employees compete with everyone else in the applicant pool for an Iowa State job.

However, when a job changes significantly and the same employee continues to do it, managers need to respond.

"You can't have employees doing jobs you're either unable or unwilling to pay them for," she said. "So have them do jobs you are willing to pay them for."

Positive steps

Espinoza said incremental ways to address inequity in the P&S system include:

Espinoza said the information she presents at all three forums will be posted on the HRS Web site. She also said the annual P&S salary report will be available online, but cautioned employees against excerpting small pieces of the report and using them out of context of the full report. She encouraged employees to call the HRS office with questions about P&S classification or compensation.

The final P&S education forum begins at noon Monday, Nov. 8, in the Memorial Union Gallery. The topic will be employee benefits.

Iowa State homepage

Inside Iowa State,, University Relations
Copyright © 1999, Iowa State University, all rights reserved

Revised 11/4/99